Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sanibel's Crocodile

Sanibel Island has one crocodile, that is a female called Wilma. She was first seen here in 1980. She was captured a couple of times and trucked down to the Everglades, but each time she made her way back to Sanibel again. (I've said it before; there's just something about this place.) It is believed that she is the northernmost crocodile in the Western Hemisphere.

She's now around 11 or 12 feet in length and weighs between 500 and 600 pounds. There are reports of her being seen, only a few times each year and most of the time that is either near or in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. That makes it a thrill just to get a glimpse of her. One year, she wasn't seen at all and was thought to have died. In the Spring, she makes a nest and lays eggs. Since there is no male here the eggs are not fertilized. The story I have heard, is that when she realizes the eggs won't hatch, she has actually stollen alligator babies. When she later discovers that they aren't crocs, she gives them back. It's sad that her mothering instincts are going to waste.

Just last week, a friend called to tell me that they had seen Wilma make a nest and lay her eggs,just across the street from their home. They called authorities and they quickly arrived to put a chain link fence partially around that area, with hope of deterring people from getting too close to the nest, which in turn could cause Wilma to feel a need to protect it. The watched as she layed the eggs and said she appeared to be in a trans like state during that time.

When I was there 2 days later, I didn't see her, but they had seen her swimming in a pond by the nest. Last I talked to them, they say she's there keeping an eye on the eggs. They sent these pictures for me to share. :-)

The American crocodiles, once near the brink of extinction because of hunting and habitat loss, now flourish so at the tip of Florida, that they've been downgraded, in this state from endangered to threatened status by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. An estimated 2,000 crocodiles are thought to be in the wild in South Florida.


She is over the nest in the first photos, while laying eggs. Pretty close to the street.








8 comments:

Jill said...

wow!!! we are visiting sanibel now and would love to catch a glimpse of Wilma! we leave on friday... are you allowed to say where she is?!

ღ Alice ღ ™ said...

She's HUGE!!!! She looks ready to attack too..lol...I love this blog,thank you Tootie :)

gpc said...

Wow, what cool photos and how amazing for your friends to have witnessed this! I've seen her twice in my visits to the island, she is a beauty.

Little Black Scrap Cat said...

OMG!! That is one HUGE crocodile!! Maybe it's a good thing she's the only one on the island. As many eggs as she's laid in the past years, you could be over run by them!!

Melli said...

Oh WOW! Now you know... I just gotta say... I took some pics of crocs at one of the zoos I recently visited ... but there is NO WAY I would get close enough to photograph a croc out in the wild. Your friends are very brave! Crocs can move rather quickly when they want to! This really is AMAZING though... I think they should import a MAN for that croc! She needs some REAL babies! That would help re-establish their count too!

ladybuglover526 said...

We stay at Pointe Santo De Sanibel and in our resident book it stated that she use to live in the pond there on the property. They had a framed picture of her. The night watchman said that she always went across the street to Ding Darling to try to mate. They have kicked her out many times because of her hissing, but she comes back everytime. I understand her attraction to the island. We left last June after we got married on the island and I was in tears we left. We are returning the 23 of May to celebrate my 30th birthday. I love this place, this is my paradise! Can't blame Wilma for coming back!

toni said...

What a great and interesting story. Wilma- love that name for a croc.

Karan said...

Toot...LOVE these photos! Thanks for sharing. I finally get to see the croc.

karan